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Farhana Akthar

FarhanaYear: First (At time of interview: March 2017)


Education: BSc in Biomedical Sciences at Queen Mary, University of London

What work experience had you gained before coming here?

I worked for over a year as a public health data analyst and spent three months as a research assistant in a GP practice in East London. I also did one week of ophthalmology work experience at UCL Hospital and one week of obstetrics & gynaecology work experience at St Mary’s, Imperial College Hospital.

Why did you choose Warwick?

Warwick met all of the criteria that I was looking for when deciding which universities to apply to. I knew I wanted to do a graduate course, for financial and temporal reasons. I also wanted to do a degree that provided a mixture of case based learning (CBL) and lectures. My last degree incorporated some CBL, which I really enjoyed, so I already knew it was a style of learning that worked for me. The biggest thing that drew me to Warwick, however, was the fact that we have some clinical exposure from the first year, which a lot of other courses don’t offer until further into the degree.

How have you found the MB ChB so far?

It has honestly been one of the most challenging things I have ever done. The very nature of an accelerated graduate course means there is a lot of content being delivered in a short space of time. This past year has definitely put my time management skills to the test!

Have you had any experience of going into clinic yet?

We haven’t had any time in clinics per se, but we have bedside hospital teaching nearly every week on the wards (my placement is at the George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton) and it is absolutely the highlight of my week. I am someone who learns best when I can contextualise what I’m being taught and these teaching sessions at the hospital really bring together the full picture of what medicine is truly about, from taking a history and doing examinations to coming up with a list of differentials.

Not only do we have the opportunity to practise our clinical skills on the wonderful patients, we're also given early exposure to the complexity of multidisciplinary management of the patient’s condition and all of the other factors which need to be considered when treating a patient. The consultants who teach us on the wards really promote a supportive learning environment and have really helped me to build my confidence in my clinical skills.

What else are you enjoying about your course?

Other than the time spent on the wards, I am also really enjoying the anatomy sessions on Fridays. As with the wards, they allow me to contextualise what we’ve learnt during our anatomy lectures and really see what the muscles look like in the human body. It’s really nice that the anatomy sessions are organised so that we have a mixture of both tutoring and self-directed learning. The anatomy teaching at Warwick has been exceptional and much better than most of my friends at other medical school seem to be receiving.

Aside from the learning medicine, I've also really enjoyed being in a cohort solely made up of graduate students. The diversity of backgrounds and prior knowledge has definitely been an advantage when it comes to learning.

Have you been involved in any extracurricular activities this year?

I'm currently the treasurer for the Friends of MSF society. So far this year, we've organised a bake sale (which was very successful!) and are in the process of organising a charity pub quiz. The MSF charity also runs an annual conference for Friends of MSF societies all over the country to meet, network and find out more about the kind of work that MSF do. I'm also in the process of starting a Warwick Muslim Medics society which should, hopefully, be properly up and running by the next academic year.

Do you have any idea at this stage what you’d like to specialise in in the future?

I’ve always had an unfaltering desire to specialise in obstetrics or some other branch of reproductive medicine. My work experience at the fertility clinic at St Mary’s Hospital in London really made me think it was, undoubtedly, the specialty for me. However, after coming to Warwick, and experiencing all of the other fields of medicine, I've definitely opened my mind to the other specialties.

I’d never anticipated that I would find gastrointestinal medicine so interesting or even considered just how rewarding neurology would be as a future career. General Practice has a certain appeal, particularly when you consider just how important the continuity of patient care is; something which has been made evident to us from our days talking to patients in the community.

Do you have any advice for people considering applying?

1. Don’t assume a good grade in your first degree will automatically mean you will do well straight away. Having completed a Biomedical Sciences degree, I had assumed that my background of medical knowledge would make medicine a walk in the park. I was initially taken aback by the breadth of medicine which I had never encountered before. However, students in the higher year groups have been incredibly helpful, particularly with providing resources to help us memorise things and holding peer teaching sessions.

2. Don’t be afraid to take a chance. WMS is a relatively new medical school which is still building its reputation, and because of this there are a lot of opportunities for students to create an environment and leave a mark in a way that many other schools won’t provide. The staff have been very accommodating with changes and are constantly looking for feedback on how to improve our learning and wellbeing. At Warwick, you’ll learn so much more than just medicine.